I went to the movies with my son today. To be more precise, my teenage son invited me to go to the movie with him. And we had no snacks while we were there. We both liked the same movie and had great conversation before and after. It was an amazing day all around
The movie had a pretty vague story – it was more of an artistic expression than an epic tale. After the movie, we spent some time talking about the fact that the story.
“I heard it was bad, but I think people just didn’t get it,” my son said. “I mean, my friends will ask me, ‘what was it about?’ and I won’t be able to tell them.”
“That’s because this movie was more a piece of art than a story,” I replied. “It’s like asking ‘what is the Mona Lisa about?’ – the question does not apply.”
We talked for a while about the film and the people who made it, and kept coming back to the same point. This movie was more about exploring ideas than it was about telling a tale. And we agreed that this was OK – maybe even a good thing.
Which brings me to the thought that wrapped around this discussion. Many times, we’re content with being entertained. As long as there is an interesting story to listen to, we’re happy. There are TV networks and Roku channels and a billion YouTube videos trying to keep us amused.
Being entertained is not enough.
I want challenge. I want to have to examine my beliefs. I want to have to think about the meaning of the piece. Sometimes I want to just be still and absorb the vision of the artist. But too often, we miss that in the quest to find something entertaining.
My few hours with my teenage son reminded me of just how enjoyable it is to look at a painting. To look at Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette and try to figure out why a dancer in the middle of the picture seems to be looking out at you when everyone else is involved in the dance. When the story line is not obvious, we must think – and thinking is not such a bad thing.
What we generally call “entertainment” is more often escapism or voyeurism. Yet, it is in often more entertaining to imagine and think. It is far more entertaining to share your ideas with others. It is tremendously entertaining to come away from that experience with new ideas and great memories.
Escapism does not generate new ideas. Voyeurism does not exercise your brain.
Art does not need a reason. Whether it’s street art, paintings, music, film, sculpture, or any other form, art for art’s sake is enough.
I’m glad that an afternoon with my son reminded me of that.